Health Department Roundup

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Either the cold weather has kept health inspectors at home, testing the temperature of their own dishwater to stay on point, or the city has been lazy about updating its online code violation reporting page. The most recent info available is from Feb. 3. (The last Health Department Roundup covered up to Feb. 2.) There were still a few violators to choose from, though. Now, we give you a couple of highlights from a day in the professional lives of the inspectors and the inspected.

The Hampton Assisted Living Residence (9889 Kempwood) kitchen earned seven violations last week. This doesn't seem to be one of those ragged homes where older folks without the means to secure a more agreeable living situation land. According to the internet, the staff here, "Just like family...provide the extra assistance you may need with your daily activities, while helping you maintain privacy, dignity and independence." Since when does anyone associate family living with privacy, dignity and independence? On the other hand, we do associate family living - and apparently, Hampton agrees - with things like using utensils while not having properly groomed facial hair; improperly thawing potentially hazardous food in water; not cleaning surfaces often enough to keep them clear of dirt and dust; not utilizing pest-reduction measures; and improperly handling plates. Looking at you, Mom.

You know you're in the sticks when your address hits five figures. Kingwood Café (20000 Kingwood Drive, at Lone Star College-Kingwood), however, is not out of the reach of the city inspector's click-pens and clipboards. It also racked up seven violations, and some of the wording is more vivid than the usual "there may or may not be dirt/dust/lint/glitter on surfaces in the vicinity of things small enough to fit in your mouth." For instance, KC got written up for "food contact surfaces of cooking equipment not kept free of crusted grease deposits/accumulated soil." Way to make that language dance, inspector. We imagine a lion-in-winter Sean Connery standing behind you as you wrote that, bellowing, "You the man now, dog!" Other violations included food and utensils stored too close to the floor and food not heated to proper temperatures.

Fun fact of the week: La Palapa Seafood at 9435 Kempwood - down the road from the Hampton facility - earned seven kitchen violations for pretty basic stuff: not enough light, not enough hand-washing sink access, walls in disrepair, vents hard to clean. Inspectors also wrote up the oyster bar for some dust/dirt, some improperly installed plumbing, a hand-washing sink violation and "shellstock tags/labels not properly retained for 90 days." Ninety days? Actually, the point is - we're 90 percent sure, at least - being able to prove and track the provenance of any contaminated shellfish in the case of an outbreak of some nasty oyster-related illness. So if raw oysters ever make you really sick, you can take comfort in the fact that there are mechanisms in place to possibly explain why at the moment you'd rather die on your bathroom floor than go on living such a wretched existence, and they can maybe, but probably not, explain this weeks after you feel better. Either way, we're not going to stop downing "shellstock" anytime soon.

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